Council education funding calls backed by Hartlepool MP Mike Hill during debate in Parliament

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has supported council bosses calling for help with education funding pressures.

Hartlepool Borough Council has a projected shortfall of £621,000 for its 2019/20 high needs block school funding and council bosses said demands are increasing to support children with special needs.

The council has also recently written to the Secretary of State, Damian Hinds MP, to express their concerns over the lack of school funding.

On Tuesday Mr Hill spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate on Special Education Needs and Disabilities funding in schools to raise the impact pressures were having on Hartlepool.

Mr Hill said: “I attended the Westminster Hall Debate to highlight the fact that this aspect of school funding in Hartlepool is on a projected shortfall of £621,000 for 2019/20 and that demands on what’s known as Higher Needs Block (HNB) funding are increasing.

“The debate showed that Hartlepool is not the only local authority struggling with HNB under funding, but it was important to highlight the particular pressures on our schools and back the local council in its call for a Dedicated Schools Grant that is reflective of local need on a sustained basis.”

Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, who moved the motion for the debate said the topic was an ‘immense concern’ to a large number of people.

Speaking to Mr Hill at the debate, he said although Hartlepool is ‘a very different kind of community’ from Twickenham, where he serves as MP, it shows it is a problem felt across the board.

Councillors in Hartlepool voted at the end of last year to apply to the Secretary of State to address the shortfall by transferring money from its general ‘schools block’ funding allocated by the Government, which will mean funding for each school is reduced slightly.

Councillors hit out at central government at the time over the lack of funding provided, with Coun Brenda Harrison claiming it put children in an ‘insidious position’.

The high needs block budget requirement for Hartlepool for 2019/20 is £9.745million with the total funding currently £9.124million.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency provided additional funding for Hartlepool at the end of last year, reducing the gap in funding for the high needs block to £621,000 from £1.030million which was previously predicted.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service